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An alligator, or colloquially gator, is a large reptile of the order Crocodilia in the genus Alligator of the family Alligatoridae. The two extant species are the American alligator and the Chinese alligator. Several extinct species of alligators are known from fossil remains.


The word alligator comes from the Spanish word el lagarto which means "the lizard".


Alligators belong to the group Crocodilia, which also includes the crocodiles, caimans, and gharials, but the reptile referred to specifically by the name alligator is distinguished primarily by body size and the shape of its snout, which is rounder than that of the crocodile. (One mnemonic method for distinguishing the alligator from the crocodile is that the alligator's snout is U-shaped and the crocodile's is V-shaped.) American alligators are larger and live in freshwater swampy areas of the United States, while Chinese alligators are smaller and live in Asia, while Crocodiles are native to warm, marshy and saltwater areas in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, although they have been imported abroad to zoos as well as "crocodile farms" which are well-known for the sport of crocodile wrestling in places such as Thailand and Australia. American crocodiles live in parts of the Americas.

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